One of the things in life that gives me a great sense of peace and “all is right in the world” feeling is when I enter into a classroom and the teacher has executive control over the classroom. It’s like a drug for a reading consultant like me!

Recently I worked with a serious of teachers at a school and the topic of the day was “How can I get my students to be better behaved?” I realized that I could have just launched into Behavior Management 101, but what I realized is that these same teachers have had great behavior management training, just like teachers who were not having trouble with behavior management…so what gives?

I realized quickly that I didn’t have enough information to really help these teachers solve their problems, so we set out to gather data. This was the task: observe and take anecdotal records on your behaviorally struggling students, according to these questions:

  • What time of day did the behavior problems crop up?
  • What was the classroom location of the problem behavior?
  • What subject matter was being taught at the time?
  • What type of learning was supposed to be happening? (Guided practice, independent practice, teacher direct instruction and model?)
  • How difficult was the task? What is something that was relatively new or an “old” skill that was practiced for mastery?
  • Were there specific adults/students present at the time?

What we tried to pick up while gathering this information were particular trends that were affecting the students’ behaviors. It was really eye-opening to the teachers to recognize that this just wasn’t a “student issue” but also an environmental and learning issue. So, instead of overhauling everything, we set out to systematically alter, adjust or eliminate those things that we have control over, according to the data we collected.

For example, one teacher chose to separate two students after she realized that two students (who did not belong together!) were gravitating to each other repeatedly throughout the reading and math block, the places that she saw behavior problems increase. One teacher realized that every time she began to teach something new to her students, her two problem-behavior girls would act out, requiring her to stop the lesson for major redirecting. Her solution was to pull the girls together at the very end of the day prior to let them know what they would be learning the next day and encouraging them that “they could do it!”.

I encourage you to take a student from your class or school who struggles with behavior management (and practically drives you to insanity) and collect data to see what trends you notice.

Leave a response to this topic below…I’d love to hear from you!